Have you ever thought of adding something on your horse-owner bonding activity checklist that will surely be both fun and healthy? Honest to goodness, this kind of activity does really exist! To lunge your horse is not something unusual between owners and horses but are you guys aware of its significance to your four-legged buds’ way of living? To all horsey-lovers out there, are you executing this kind of exercise correctly and without causing your horses any form of harm? Here are the things that you must know about lunging your horses or simply letting them do some gymnasts-like moves fresh from their stables!
So what is lunging a horse mean? This is a way on how an owner or a handler can help their horses do some exercise or to do burning off some extra energy acquired from eating a lot of greens while gaining more strength for field work. Some owners do this regularly for stronger bond purposes while others do this to train their horses and gain more physical strength and endurance. Lunging horses can be very helpful and healthy for your horses because this activity can increase their fitness and this can be done as an alternative if your horse is not a working horse type. In other words, lameness can be easily prevented if this act is being done on a regular basis. On the other hand, handlers or riders can also benefit from this form of horses’ exercise by learning some skills without fully controlling the horses being trained or being taken care of.
On the other part, some handlers are not aware that they have been lunging their horses in the wrong way. Some use improper equipment, and some introduce unsafe routines in the activity. We provided you here with some tips on how you guys can handle your horses smoothly without causing them any harm when lunging.
What are the things needed when lunging a horse?
- A conditioned horse is needed here firsthand. You always make sure that your horse is not ill and can be able to perform well in the whole exercise or training.
- A lunge line that measures 30-35 feet along. Some use flat webbing because it is way lighter and easier to use than rope.
- A handler needs arm or hand protection like gloves, helmets and sturdy boots to avoid some rope burns and injuries.
- Horses need protection too, so they are advised to use some exercise boots or wraps for their leg protection.
- A lunge whip is also needed here to help you manage and control your horse.
- To have a good place for lunging like a ring, arena or a round pen is also necessary for this form of horse-handler activity.
- A trained handler or owner that knows the horses’ behavior. The horse’s trainer will be needing his voice most of the time for cueing the horse or instructing them on what to do.
With these things, you can now make sure that you are using the right equipment prior to lunging. But after getting all these stuff, how will you manage to lunge your horses safely and healthy?
What are some of the tips that can be done to safely lunge your horse?
- Always be aware of the fact that lunging horses can be very stressful to your horses’ legs and muscles since it’s something that makes them move a lot. With this, if your horse is just new to lunging, never introduce him to the act really quick but try to do it gradually to avoid too much muscle sores and injuries.
- As a handler or a trainer, you should also make sure that the place for lunging has a good footing. This means considering the surface of the area because a rocky, hard and deep-footing area can increase the possibilities of having an injured horse after lunging them out.
- After getting all the necessary materials needed in lunging as well as having an already conditioned horse, always make sure that your horse can have this ample time to warm-up or to absorb the thought that he’s to do some demanding tasks for the day. Trotting your horses or cantering them on lunge is what most handlers do as a warm-up.
- Permitting bad behavior when lunging horses is not advisable among handlers and trainers. It’s really on their instincts to see this activity as an opportunity to misbehave so having rules will eventually lead to a safer, healthier and more fun lunging experience.
- Since we are talking about safety here, handlers should hold the lunge line higher, so the horse will not get his legs hooked over the lunge line. This one is very advisable especially when your horse gets so hyper and energetic that they tend to give out higher kicks when lunging.
- The safety of the handler and the owner is also being considered in this kind of training exercise. To avoid getting dragged by your horse, do not ever loop your hand through the extra line while lunging. It is way better to hold the extra lunge line together in your fist, so your hand will not be roughly coiled or stuck inside the loop.
As we have provided here some of the things that you need to know when lunging horses, always keep in mind first that this kind of activity is not a form of punishment for our horses. Yes, it is truly a form of physical exercise among horses that is being led by the handler, but the latter should never take advantage of this act as a way of hurting horses. As I have said, lunging is done as either horse-owner bond or means of power training, therefore; this act should never be overdone.
Aside from letting your horses gain some extra strength, this can also train your horses to be more obedient. This form of activity is not just really considered as physical exercise but can also be a form of mental exercise to horses. Safe lunging can develop your horses’ physical and mental abilities, and as their beloved handlers and owners, it is your duty and responsibility to keep them safe while seeing them change into better and stronger buds!
What are the common mistakes that are being committed when lunging horses?
- Lunging with a bit is a very common mistake during lunging.
- Never place your horse’s head and neck in a very unnatural way for horses. Don’t use draw reins or side reins.
- If there is no connection between the trainer and the horse, no foundation is being established. Therefore, a whole lot harder training will be experienced by the two parties.
- Some handlers use wrong body languages hence horses tend to get confused. Some horses become more aggressive; others become anxious while others tend to run away.
How will you know when to stop lunging?
Some handlers tend to over-lunge their horses while others stop and end the entire activity too early. Lunging horses for a longer period makes the horses feel more tired, and if this thing becomes usual, horses will get less motivated, and the purpose of strengthening will eventually be neglected. However, lunging too short can also affect the horse’s bodily release of their endorphin hormones making them feel that lunging is not relaxing and pleasant. Above this, always keep in mind that a good trainer can be observant and can know when is the best time to stop lunging—not too early and not too late.
Is a larger circle better than smaller ones?
Lunging on a smaller circle can be quite hard for horse’s legs, so most handlers give larger circles by letting out longer line. If there is a gradual increase of work and energy, your horses can become more fit and balanced.